Ofcom needs to act on ITV Midlands

BECTU yesterday called on Ofcom to prevent "an accident waiting to happen" in ITV's Midlands region.

At a meeting with the broadcasting regulator union officials questioned the ability of ITV to deliver sufficient regional programming if it goes ahead with job cuts in the region.

ITV management plan to cut some 360 jobs across the Midlands in a move which BECTU believes will leave the broadcaster unable to meet its obligations to the viewer.

Sharon Elliott BECTU official commented "ITV is currently required to produce a range of programmes from a range of production centres in the region in line with 2002 output levels." ITV save jobs protect the service button

"The planned closure of the Nottingham Studios, linked to proposals to cut Birmingham-based staff involved in making programmes for the Network, has to mean that ITV cannot provide the service to viewers which it is licensed to do. What we see now is an accident waiting to happen and we have called on Ofcom to intervene".

At the meeting Ofcom stressed that its regulatory powers are focused on "outputs not inputs". However executives did agree to seek details from ITV on how they intend to meet their obligations with the imminent loss of key resources.

Nigel Mason, the BECTU official leading the redundancy discussions said "ITV is being allowed to squander key resources and deprive the region of its voice in favour of further concentration of production in London. This is contrary to what the Act is supposed to do".

BECTU fears that production and technical expertise, once lost, will be impossible to replace. The removal of the creative hubs currently centred in Nottingham and Birmingham will leave the industry ill-equipped in the region as staff move on to other employment and freelance colleagues too lose a key source of work.

Despite protests from BECTU and journalists' union the NUJ, supported by MPs and local politicians, management look set to go ahead with 200 job losses in Nottingham next month.

This coming Saturday 22 May Nottingham town centre will host a major family fun day event as part of the "Save Our Studios" campaign. Already 22,000 people have signed the petition against closure.

19 May 2004